In a response to my friend Chris O’Donnell (enjoy that Google juice buddy) who wrote a post contemplating how he uses social media, I thought I’d post this response.
I’ve had versions of this same revelation but nothing more serious than when a former junior colleague, who’s a friend on Facebook, asked me if I remembered her via LinkedIn. To a fault I have the memory of an elephant, but we were supposed to be “friends”?
I did a massive purge on Facebook (800 friends down to 400) to see if it mattered to anyone. Nope. And what I learned from it is that it’s fine to be connected with someone elsewhere provided there’s engagement or it’s professionally appropriate.
When I left the Catskills almost 6 months ago, I did yet another another purge on Facebook. It wasn’t personal or what have you but the algorithm was completely out of whack. My friends list included people whose kids I’ve coached, people whose businesses I frequented in town and even folks who have been to my house. And yet, I hadn’t heard a word from them in months, if not longer, once they found out I was leaving New York.
So I did another purge to see if making Facebook not a shit show was any better. It was, sort of. And by sort of, I mean that I saw less stuff I didn’t want to see because of the unfriending, but it also returned me to a place of understanding the value proposition of what I got out of social media. The need to share every moment of my life to people I had met once or hadn’t seen in person in 25 years on a platform that is harvesting and selling my data to the highest bidder has zero appeal to me anymore. Hell, I don’t even update my company’s LinkedIn status or Facebook page anymore because in the end none of it matters as it relates to gaining or retaining clients.
Ultimately, I love to talk basketball on Twitter as the whole building the right community thing has been better, but overall I have pulled back significantly from social media. It’s not because it’s not fun to see what people are up to, but the reality is that things that a very impersonal/superficial approach to defining how you approach your life.
I now live on an island in the Caribbean, go for beach walks daily with my wife and bulldogs, take my kids to and from school, help with homework and am way more invested in living life than I am in using social media to create a perception of who I am. The crazy part is, regarding work and putting myself out there through social, that none of it has really made a difference from a work perspective. The people that know me and refer business to me know that I am a professional, I am more knowledgeable than 99.99% of people in my field and I do everything I can in my power to help them succeed, even if it means taking a loss in some capacity. In short, my reality was still reality whether I tweeted about it, posted to the ‘Gram.
And in turn, I’ve been doing more face to face and phone discussions with people over the past year and those relationships are far more valuable than, say, an intern in New York City looking to connect with me for a future job on Twitter, only to find out I don’t live in New York anymore and receive an unfollow once they think – based on appearances – I can’t help them.
Has your use of social media changed? I’d be interested in hearing it.